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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (6): Flybe Mastercard

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This is my review of the Flybe Mastercard credit card.

EDIT:  The Flybe Mastercard has now been withdrawn from the market for new applicants.  I have kept this review up as a reference article.

It is part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page. My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Experian Credit Score.

Key link: Flybe Mastercard application form

Key facts: No annual fee

The representative APR is 18.9% variable.

About the card

The Flybe Mastercard is issued by Creation Financial Services, which also operates the IHG Rewards Club cards. Creation may not be a familiar name but it is owned by French bank BNP Paribas.

What is the sign-up bonus?

This has been the trickiest card to evaluate so far, to be honest. Flybe and its credit card loyalty scheme completely passes most of us by – but have we been making a massive mistake?!

The current offer is for one free return flight on any Flybe route to / from the UK. Taxes and other charges are still due – this is a key problem, as we will see.

Any other benefits?

A few, but nothing radical. 10% off Avis car rentals worldwide and some travel money benefits. Nothing you couldn’t beat elsewhere with a little research.

Flybe MasterCard credit card review

What is the annual fee?

There is no annual fee.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

It’s not as simple as that. The Flybe credit card has a reward scheme called Spend&Fly. This is totally separate to the rewards you earn for flying with Flybe as they give Avios points to passengers. The ONLY way to earn Spend&Fly points is from the credit card.

What is a Flybe point worth?

The Spend&Fly scheme is outlined here. The rewards are:

  • £4,000 spend = 1 Just Fly or Get More return flight within the UK (Get More supplement applies)
  • £5,500 spend = 1 All In return flight within the UK
  • £6,000 spend = 1 Just Fly or Get More flight between UK and an EU member state (Get More supplement applies)
  • £7,500 spend = 1 All In return flight between UK and an EU member state

On the face of it, this compares well with the Avios scheme when looking at the spend required for a redemption flight.

Note that Flybe has baggage charges for Just Fly flights. A Get More flight gives you a 23kg baggage allowance, cabin baggage and reserved seating.

However ….

As a budget airline, taxes and charges make up a large percentage of the fare. I checked a random return trip from Manchester to Dusseldorf which had over £50 of taxes. The actual saving over a cash ticket is therefore much lower than you may expect.

Is this a good card to use when travelling?

As Creation adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad. Unfortunately there are no travel rewards card without a foreign exchange fee.  One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HFP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.

Other points to note

There is a nasty expiry policy on points earned from the credit card – they disappear 12 months after they are earned and cannot be extended. There are some other painful tweaks:

  • you cannot book one-way redemptions
  • date changes will cost £70 per ticket (ie £35 per sector)
  • reward flights are non-refundable

There is also this interesting comment on the website: “Discounted web fares may occasionally be available at a lower cost (including taxes & charges) than equivalent reward flights“. This means that you may end up being asked for £100 in ‘taxes and charges’ to book your redemption flight, whilst a cash ticket for the same flight is available for £80!

I have no idea how good or bad ‘free’ flight availability is with Flybe but feedback from Head for Points readers is that it is poor. It is different to the award availability offered to Avios customers via avios.com.

Conclusion

It is difficult to value the ‘free flight’ you receive for signing up to the card for the reasons I outline above. You will probably receive £30-£40 of net value after paying the taxes.

You are unlikely to get much value from the on-going earnings rate. Whilst free flights are relatively easy to achieve, the level of taxes that are still required means that the value you get is restricted. The nasty 1-year expiry policy on your spend points is also a negative. That said, if you regularly fly on a specific and expensive Flybe route then you may value the points more highly.

The application form for the Flybe Mastercard can be found here.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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Comments

  1. Chris L says:

    I’m a regular Flybe user and this got me thinking: is Flybe a ‘budget’ airline. Certainly, price-wise it’s hard to say as many of their routes have no direct competitor. How do we now define budget airlines? Correct, me if I’m wrong but here are the standard features and how they apply to Flybe:

    1. Budget carriers charge for extras such as food/drink and hold baggage
    Yes, but so do BA and many other ‘major’ carriers, particularly short haul

    2. Budget carriers serve ‘alternative’ airports – e.g. London Stansted, Milan Bergamo
    No, Flybe serve major airports – even LHR now unlike most budget carriers

    3. Budget carriers offer minimal legroom and typically ‘slimline’ seating
    Actually I think I’m more comfortable on a Flybe Embraer than one of the newer narrow body aircraft from one of the major carriers. The Dash 8 aren’t that comfortable, but they are typical of their type when compared to other airlines operating them.

    4. Budget airlines have low-cost operations with fast turnaround times
    No different from any other short haul operation nowadays?!

    5. Budget carriers don’t have business class
    True, but no different from many European carriers, though Flybe has the ‘All In’ fare which includes lounge access etc. There is no ‘priority’ boarding but there’s rarely any point as the aircraft are small.

    6. Budget carriers cater primarily to the price-sensitive leisure market
    Actually Flybe has high usage by business travellers and serves many business-focused routes, e.g. Birmingham – Dusseldorf, Manchester – Paris, London City – Exeter.

    Does the short haul budget vs full service paradigm still exist? I’m not so sure.

    • Chris L says:

      I guess the point I’m making is that Flybe should not be excused having a decent loyalty programme because ‘they’re a budget airline and budget airlines don’t have normal loyalty schemes’. Sounds like they’re trying to address this though.

  2. David Ibbotson says:

    I earned 2 free flights a year ago, and despite trying really hard on the web and the call centre over several weeks I couldn’t find any flights. I didn’t place any restrictions I’m my selection not even countries of departure or arrival. So in my view I wasted £20k spending on the card when I could have collected Avios on my BA Amex.

  3. Hmm .. so spend £3,999 and get.. nothing?

    • Shoestring says:

      There’s probably a place for spend £250 & get a free return flight (+ fees) + 2x23kg checked bags, lounge access on both legs, fast pass security, free seat selection (at the front) and a free drink and snack on board. (as per Lewis above)

      As Lewis said, you can always cancel card after that. And as Shoestring says: then get one for the wife 🙂

  4. As a reasonably regular Flybe user, and Avios collector, I would love to see a like for like comparison of this and card that earn Avios for redemption on Flybe. Would this be possible? My impression is that this card compares very favourably with Avios-earning non-Amex options. However, I am struggling to get my head around all the factors involved in such a calculation.

  5. Lady London says:

    “Discounted web fares may occasionally be available at a lower cost (including taxes & charges) than equivalent reward flights“. This means that you may end up being asked for £100 in ‘taxes and charges’ to book your redemption flight, whilst a cash ticket for the same flight is available for £80!

    Same with Lufthansa especially on short-haul within Europe. I thought Lufthansa was the only airline British Airways would envy the ability of to really take the p on outrageous “taxes”… but it seems in their own way flybe is doing it too.

    • Shoestring says:

      You would be a confident investor though – Flybe are ripping off the consumer on Loyalty so badly, it MUST be good for the bottom line.

      • It probably isn’t. They are spending huge chunks of money on a loyalty infrastructure, including hiring the new guy from Avios, which isn’t delivering. If your loyalty scheme doesn’t deliver incremental business you’re better off without it.

  6. Janice Stephens says:

    When Flybe were in business with Loganair the credit card was good. I used to be able to get the Spend and Fly flights to Shetland by paying only the tax which was just over £40. That was really the reason I took the credit card out as I travel to Shetland regularly. I have two vouchers which are due to expire soon but have checked and checked destinations and can only save about £20 or £40 on a flight to maybe Belfast or Jersey. Have thought about it but really am going to end up spending more money to use up the vouchers. From this month all our monthly outgoings are going onto another card.

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